Military helicopter pilot Dominic Cipolla walks under the wing of an instruction plane at Coast Flight Training in San Diego, California, U.S., January 15, 2019. Picture taken January 15, 2019. (Reuters/Mike Blake)

CHICAGO (Reuters) - U.S. Army pilot Shaun Perez spent ten hours flying an Apache helicopter over Afghanistan, providing gun cover for Special Forces soldiers on the ground as they hunted for high-value targets, guns and weapons.

Returning to his base at dawn, he donned a fresh uniform before shutting himself into a small room to secure the next stage of his career — as a commercial airline pilot.

He would win the job in a video interview that day in August 2017, joining hundreds of other U.S. military helicopter pilots who have taken attractive offers from domestic airlines trying ease a global pilot shortage.

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